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Label: art world

Friday 18th November 2016Can Trump Be Good for the Art World? Or....

It's probably fair to say that most artists generally find themselves on the more socially progressive side of the political spectrum. Facism, as an extreme of the right wing, is rarely the patron saint of the arts. Of course, extremes in any direction rarely appreciate the arts enough to cultivate them in a way that lets them thrive, but surely the election of Donald Trump has most artists stunned, outraged, or just downright depressed.

Except not every part of the art world is depressed about it, apparently - the auction houses are excited by the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency. It's moments like this that we reflect on why we stopped discussing the latest record-breaking sale from an auction house, and decided to focus more on living artists and their current works: in general, once art hits the auction house, it doesn't really have much to do with art anymore.

Instead, it's really nothing more than another part of an investment portfolio - which is surely at least partly why auction houses are the only part of the art world excited by the prospect of a Trump presidency. He's a billionaire, after all, and has enough capital to fill a whole bunch of gaudy gold frames.

"I think there's been a fairly good feeling among the art collectors this week," said Tad Smith, director of Sotheby's auction house in New York City, during an interview with CNBC. "There's just a lot of very wealthy people from all types of countries... and they have a lot of capital to deploy."

"Everywhere I go around the world, and really for almost 15 or 16 months, we've had a large group of buyers that have plenty of money to spend and they want to buy things. The trouble particularly in the last six to 12 months has been there hasn't been enough that they were offering."

"As long as we have a good, confident week, and I think we're going to do that, we're going to have more offered in the spring. That will free up the buyers. It's convincing those sellers that the buyers are there — that's the big opportunity."

Straight from the horse's mouth: it's not really about the art, it's about the extremely wealthy patrons who show up for Donald Trump's election that matter to them.

Posted on November 18th 2016 on 11:46pm
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Thursday 03rd July 2014Are You ArtRank-ed?

Speculation in the art world has always been a bit of a gamble. Much like the great grand-daddy of speculation that is the stock market, huge sums of money are made and lost on a regular basis, as collectors vie with each other to discover the hottest young talent, and gamble on those artists who are currently in the midst of their careers. Some collectors have a knack for it, others are left in the financial dust. Recently, a new service has been shaking things up for collectors and artists alike, and there are those on both sides of the fence who see it as extremely problematic, and perhaps even downright unfair.

The service, which is known as ArtRank, is the brainchild of Argentina-born California gallery owner Carlos Rivera, who runs the Rivera and Rivera gallery in West Hollywood. Supposedly based on algorithms and software that was designed for world financial markets, ArtRank provides collectors with information about whether to buy or sell the work of particular artists at particular price points, much in the way that financial analysts recommend the purchase or sale of particular stocks.

Many in the art community originally took the website to be some sort of cruel joke at the expense of other artists, as the website was originally named sellyoulater.com, but Rivera assures potential clients that the service is entirely dedicated to provided the best possible speculative analysis for art collectors and investors. A paid section of the site is available to 10 subscribers, who pay $3,500 USD per quarter to get access to the latest data three weeks before the information is made publicly and freely available on the website.

Needless to say, this is likely to generate a great deal of ill will, and artificially modify the nature of the art market if it gets too widespread a hold. That may not inherently be a bad thing, but one must wonder as an artist if there is such a thing as treating the collecting world too coldly. Of course, for any artists who are ranked in the buy categories, it could be a huge boon to their careers, driving collectors to purchase, but there is the possibility that, as in the financial markets, artificially-generated booms and busts may be more than the art world can handle. There has already been a great deal of speculation that the art world is in something of a price bubble, but ArtRank may change all that in one fell swoop.

Take swing by ArtRank and check it out for yourself - have you been ArtRank-ed?

Posted on July 03rd 2014 on 07:46pm
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Tuesday 27th May 2014How the Art World Creates Value

The value of art is a funny thing. The value of anything is determined by any number of factors, naturally, but as we saw with the advent of impressionist painting, value is no longer inherently about the technical skills employed in accurately representing the world around us. As in almost all other areas of the world, the art community establishes value based on a fairly random set of criteria. As we've seen lately, many of the world's most famous works command incredibly high prices, regardless of whether or not you accept the premise that the art world is experiencing a sales bubble.

Philip Hook, a leading art expert and a senior director at Sotheby's auction house, has put his finger on a number of circumstances that help create the seemingly-inflated prices that these works command. Interestingly, the majority of them tend to be related to the story behind the work itself, rather than specifically about the content or style. As we've discussed in previous posts, you can take advantage of this with some judicious self-promotion. By sharing the narrative of your artistic life, and how that intersects with and influences the rest of your life, can create a much more interesting story than the work would in a vacuum.

Consider Van Gogh: a world-renowned painter whose works command incredible prices at auction houses during the rare changes of ownership they see every few decades. But without the famous story of his anguish over his art, his depression, the self-mutilation of his ear and his eventual tragic suicide, would his work still command the respect and admiration that it does today? Perhaps, but there were a number of other artists whose work could easily be the ones revered in galleries throughout the world instead of Van Gogh.

This is not to say that you should be willing to hurt yourself or do anything permanently drastic just to make your art potentially valuable, but being aware of the power of narrative to shape the value of your work (both fiscally and perceptually) can be a very helpful tool in your artistic career. Many beginning artists are paradoxically shy about sharing the more intimate details of their lives, despite being inherently invested in expressive tendencies, and the sooner you can shake this habit, the sooner you'll be able to start taking advantage of your own ability to create works of value.

Posted on May 27th 2014 on 10:03pm
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